Policy on the retention of WhatsApp messages: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

  1. The Scottish Government’s policy on the retention of WhatsApp messages in its records management system.
  2. The Scottish Government’s policy on whether the term “correspondence” in a Freedom of Information request is taken to include WhatsApp messages.
  3. The number of WhatsApp messages retained by the Scottish Government’s records management system. I’m less interested in the specific number than in some meaningful measure of the quantity of data retained. So, if it would be easier: the number of pages of WhatsApp messages retained, or the number of MB of retained data pertaining to WhatsApp messages.
  4. The number of WhatsApp messages which have ever been disclosed as a result of Freedom of Information requests to the Scottish Government.


1. The Scottish Government policy is contained within the SG Records Management Policy Records management policy states that information and records should be retained as long as they are required to support the Scottish Government in its business requirements and legal obligations. These documents are filed according to subject and policy area and not according to the medium through which they were communicated.

2. The Scottish Government recognises that all recorded information relating to its business is subject to Freedom of Information law, irrespective of its format or the platform on which it is held.

3. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because the corporate records management system does not identify the type of information which is held there to this level of detail.

4. The Scottish Government has previously released messaging exchanges in response to Freedom of Information requests. However, to ascertain the number of responses which have included such exchanges officials would require to individually check every FOI response the Scottish Government has issued. For that reason, this information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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